Pulling at My Heart Strings

Sona Jobarteh – Gambia

Sona Jorbarteh – Motherland

I discovered Sona Jobarteh on my travels with Khonsu. How is it that I’ve never found her incredible voice and presence before, especially when her heart is attached to one of my favourite instruments – the kora? Her song Saya, from the documentary film ‘Motherland’, had me in tears.

Until I chanced upon Sona, I’d only ever seen men playing the kora. That 21-string instrument that’s at the heart of all griot music in West Africa, reminds me of both the Arab oud and the harp. When I was living in the Gambia years ago, I’d lay in bed at night listening to the elderly uncle of my host family play softly under the stars in the cool air of the courtyard. Last year, I stood mesmerised in the hotel garden in Dakar listening to the kora players.

The kora more than an instrument. It’s history, family tradition, art, passion, culture and pride. In this interview, Sona shares what the kora means to her and her family.

Sona Jobarteh interviewed by Giovanca (live @TivoliVredenburg Utrecht)

Sona Jobarteh – Musow – AFH1030

Sona Jobarteh speaks of herself as a cultural ambassador, using her music and activism to call for development that is led by Africans, that respects African culture and that has women and girls at its heart. I love this song dedicated to women.

And, my heart was totally taken by this video of Sona singing Gambia, in the Gambia, taking me back years to beaches, sunsets, children, women, men, markets, the dalasi (money), and the games that men and boys (and sometimes women) play for hours.

Sona Jobarteh, Gambia

Leave a Reply